Inspector Erlendur Returns In this Award-winning International Bestseller.
The Christmas rush is at its peak in a grand Reykjavík hotel when Inspector Erlendur is called in to investigate a murder. The hotel Santa has been stabbed to death, and Erlendur and his fellow detectives find no shortage of suspects between the hotel staff and the international travelers staying for the holidays. As Christmas Day approaches, Erlendur must deal with his difficult daughter, pursue a possible romantic interest, and untangle a long-buried web of malice and greed to find the murderer. Voices is a brutal, soulful noir from the chilly shores of Iceland.
About the Author
Arnaldur Indridason was born in 1961. He worked at an Icelandic newspaper, first as a journalist and then for many years as a film reviewer. He won the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel for both Jar City and Silence of the Grave, and in 2005 Silence of the Grave also won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of the year. Indridason lives in Iceland, and he and J. K. Rowling are the only authors to simultaneously hold the top three spots on the Icelandic bestseller list. His next novel in the series is forthcoming soon from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur.
Read an Excerpt
VOICES (Chapter 1)
Elínborg was waiting for them at the hotel.
A large Christmas tree stood in the lobby and there were decorations, fir branches and glittering baubles all around. ‘Silent night, holy night’, over an invisible sound system. A large shuttle coach stood in front of the hotel and a group approached the reception desk. Tourists who were planning to spend Christmas and the New Year in Iceland because it seemed to them like an adventurous and exciting country. Although they had only just landed, many had apparently already bought traditional Icelandic sweaters, and they checked into the exotic land of winter. Erlendur brushed the sleet off his raincoat. Sigurdur Óli looked around the lobby and caught sight of Elínborg by the lifts. He tugged at Erlendur and they walked over to her. She had examined the scene. The first police officers to arrive there had made sure that it would remain untouched.
The hotel manager had asked them not to cause a fracas. Used that phrase when he rang. This was a hotel and hotels thrive on their reputations, and he asked them to take that into account. So there were no sirens outside, nor uniformed policemen bursting in through the lobby. The manager said that at all costs they should avoid arousing fear among the guests.
Iceland mustn’t be too exciting, too much of an adventure.
Now he was standing next to Elínborg and greeted Erlendur and Sigurdur Óli with a handshake. He was so fat that his suit hardly encompassed his body. His jacket was done up across the stomach by one button that was on the verge of giving up. The top of his trousers was hidden beneath a huge paunch that bulged out of his jacket and the man sweated so furiously that he could never put away the large white handkerchief with which he mopped his forehead and the back of his neck at regular intervals. The white collar of his shirt was soaked in perspiration. Erlendur shook his clammy hand.
‘Thank you,’ the hotel manager said, puffing like a grampus. In his twenty years of managing the hotel he had never encountered anything like this.
‘In the middle of the Christmas rush,’ he groaned. ‘I can’t understand how this could happen! How could it happen?’ he repeated, leaving them in no doubt as to how totally perplexed he was.
‘Is he up or down?’ Erlendur asked.
‘Up or down?’ the fat manager puffed. ‘Do you mean whether he’s gone to heaven?’
‘Yes,’ Erlendur said. ‘That’s exactly what we need to know…’
‘Shall we take the lift upstairs?’ Sigurdur Óli asked.
‘No,’ the manager said, casting an irritated look at Erlendur. ‘He’s down here in the basement. He’s got a little room there. We didn’t want to chuck him out. And then you get this for your troubles.’
‘Why would you have wanted to chuck him out?’ Erlendur asked.
The hotel manager looked at him but did not reply.
They walked slowly down the stairs beside the lift. The manager went first. Going down the stairs was a strain for him and Erlendur wondered how he would get back up.
Apart from Erlendur, they had agreed to show a certain amount of consideration, to try to approach the hotel as discreetly as possible. Three police cars were parked at the back, with an ambulance. Police officers and paramedics had gone in through the back door. The district medical officer was on his way. He would certify the death and call out a van to transport the body.
They walked down a long corridor with the panting manager leading the way. Plain-clothes policemen greeted them. The corridor grew darker the further they walked, because the light bulbs on the ceiling had blown and no one had bothered to change them. Eventually, in the darkness, they reached the door, which opened onto a little room. It was more like a storage space than a dwelling, but there was a narrow bed inside, a small desk and a tattered mat on the dirty tiled floor. There was a little window up near the ceiling.
The man was sitting on the bed, leaning against the wall. He was wearing a bright red Santa suit and still had the Santa cap on his head, but it had slipped down over his eyes. A large artificial Santa beard hid his face. He had undone the thick belt around his waist and unbuttoned his jacket. Beneath it he was wearing only a white vest. There was a fatal wound to his heart. Although there were other wounds on the body, the stabbing through the heart had finished him off. His hands had slash marks on them, as if he had tried to fight off the assailant. His trousers were down round his ankles. A condom hung from his penis.
‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,’ Sigurdur Óli warbled, looking down at the body.
Elínborg hushed him.
In the room was a small wardrobe and the door was open. It contained folded trousers and sweaters, ironed shirts, underwear and socks. A uniform hung on a coat-hanger, navy blue with golden epaulettes and shiny brass buttons. A pair of smartly-polished black leather shoes stood beside the cupboard.
Newspapers and magazines were strewn over the floor. Beside the bed was a small table and lamp. On the table was a single book: A History of the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
‘Did he live here, this man?’ Erlendur asked as he surveyed the scene. He and Elínborg had entered the room. Sigurdur Óli and the hotel manager were standing outside. It was too small for them all inside.
‘We let him stay here,’ the manager said awkwardly, mopping the sweat from his brow. ‘He’s been working for us for donkey’s years. Since before my time. As a doorman.’
‘Was the door open when he was found?’ Sigurdur Óli asked, trying to be formal, as if to compensate for his little ditty.
‘I asked her to wait for you,’ the manager said. ‘The girl who found him. She’s in the staff coffee room. Gave her quite a shock, poor thing, as you can imagine.’ The manager avoided looking into the room.
Erlendur walked up to the body and peered at the wound to the heart. He had no idea what kind of blade had killed the man. He looked up. Above the bed was an old, faded poster for a Shirley Temple film, sellotaped at the corners. Erlendur didn’t know the film. It was called The Little Princess. The poster was the only decoration in the room.
‘Who’s that?’ Sigurdur Óli asked from the doorway as he looked at the poster.
‘It says on it,’ Erlendur said. ‘Shirley Temple.’
‘Who’s that then? Is she dead?’
‘Who’s Shirley Temple?’ Elínborg was astonished at Sigurdur Óli’s ignorance. ‘Don’t you know who she was? Didn’t you study in America?’
‘Was she a Hollywood star?’ Sigurdur Óli asked, still looking at the poster.
‘She was a child star,’ Erlendur said curtly. ‘So she’s dead in a sense anyway.’
‘Eh?’ Sigurdur Óli said, failing to grasp the remark.
‘A child star,’ Elínborg said. ‘I think she’s still alive. I don’t remember. I think she’s something with the United Nations.’
It dawned on Erlendur that there were no other personal effects in the room. He looked around but could see no bookshelf, CDs or computer, no radio or television. Only a desk, chair, wardrobe and bed with a scruffy pillow and dirty duvet cover. The little room reminded him of a prison cell.
He went out into the corridor and peered into the darkness at the far end, and could make out a faint smell of burning, as if someone had been playing with matches there or possibly lighting their way.
‘What’s down there?’ he asked the manager.
‘Nothing,’ he replied and looked up at the ceiling. ‘Just the end of the corridor. A couple of bulbs have gone. I’ll have that fixed.’
‘How long had he lived here, this man?’ Erlendur asked as he went back into the room.
‘I don’t know, since before my time.’
‘So he was here when you became the manager?’
‘Are you telling me he lived in this hole for twenty years?’
Elínborg looked at the condom.
‘At least he practised safe sex,’ she said.
‘Not safe enough,’ Sigurdur Óli said.
At that point the district medical officer arrived, accompanied by a member of the hotel staff who then went back along the corridor. The medical officer was very fat too, although nowhere near a match for the hotel manager. When he squeezed into the room, Elínborg darted back out for air.
‘Hello, Erlendur,’ the medical officer said.
‘What does it look like?’ Erlendur asked.
‘Heart attack, but I need a better look,’ replied the medical officer, who was known for his appalling sense of humour.
Erlendur looked out at Sigurdur Óli and Elínborg, who were grinning from ear to ear.
‘Do you know when it happened?’ Erlendur asked.
‘Can’t be very long ago. Some time during the last two hours. He’s hardly begun to go cold. Have you located his reindeer?’
The medical officer lifted his hand from the body.
‘I’ll sign the certificate,’ he said. ‘You send it to the mortuary and they’ll open him up there. They say that orgasm is a kind of moment of death,’ he added, looking down at the body. ‘So he had a double.’
‘A double?’ Erlendur didn’t understand him.
‘Orgasm, I mean,’ the medical officer said. ‘You’ll take photographs, won’t you?’
‘Yes,’ Erlendur said.
‘They’ll look nice in his family album.’
‘He doesn’t appear to have any family,’ Erlendur said and looked around the room again. ‘So you’re done for the time being?’ he asked, eager to put an end to the wisecracks.
The district medical officer nodded, squeezed back out of the room and went down the corridor.
‘Won’t we have to close down the hotel?’ Elínborg asked, and noticed the manager gasp at her question. ‘Stop all traffic in and out. Question everyone staying here and all the staff? Close the airports. Stop ships leaving port…’
‘For God’s sake,’ the manager groaned, squeezing his handkerchief with an imploring look at Erlendur. ‘It’s only the doorman!’
Mary and Joseph would never have been given a room here, Erlendur thought to himself.
‘This…this…filth has nothing to do with my guests,’ the manager spluttered with indignation. ‘They’re tourists, almost all of them, and regional people, businessmen and the like. No one who has anything to do with the doorman. No one. This is one of the largest hotels in Reykjavík. It’s packed over the holidays. You can’t just close it down! You just can’t!’
‘We could, but we won’t,’ Erlendur said, trying to calm the manager down. ‘We’ll need to question some of the guests and most of the staff, I expect.’
‘Thank God,’ the manager sighed, regaining his composure.
‘What was the man’s name?’
‘Gudlaugur,’ the manager said. ‘I think he’s around fifty. And you’re right about his family, I don’t think he has any.’
‘Who visited him?’
‘I haven’t got a clue,’ the manager puffed.
‘Has anything unusual happened at the hotel involving this man?’
‘No. Nothing’s happened.’
‘He hasn’t become embroiled in anything that could explain this?’
‘Not as far as I know.’
‘Was he involved in any conflicts with anyone at this hotel?’
‘Not that I know of.’
‘Outside the hotel?’
‘Not that I know of but I don’t know him very well. Didn’t,’ the manager corrected himself.
‘Not after twenty years?’
‘No, not really. He wasn’t very sociable, I don’t think. Kept himself to himself as much as he could.’
‘Do you think a hotel is the right place for a man like him?’
‘Me? I don’t know…He was always very polite and there were never really any complaints about him.’
‘No, there were never any complaints about him. He wasn’t a bad worker really.’
‘Where’s the staff coffee room?’ Erlendur asked.
‘I’ll show you.’ The hotel manager mopped his brow, relieved that they would not close the hotel.
‘Did he have guests?’ Erlendur asked.
‘What?’ the manager said.
‘Guests,’ Erlendur repeated. ‘It looks like someone who knew him was here, don’t you think?’
The manager looked at the body and his eyes dwelled on the condom.
‘I don’t know anything about his girlfriends,’ he said. ‘Nothing at all.’
‘You don’t know very much about this man,’ Erlendur said.
‘He’s a doorman here,’ the manager said, and felt that Erlendur should accept that by way of explanation.
They left the room. The forensics team went in with their equipment and more officers followed them. It was difficult for them all to squeeze their way past the manager. Erlendur asked them to examine the corridor carefully and the dark alcove further down. Sigurdur Óli and Elínborg stood inside the little room observing the body.
‘I wouldn’t like to be found like that,’ Sigurdur Óli said.
‘It’s no concern of his any more,’ Elínborg said.
‘No, probably not,’ Sigurdur Óli said.
‘Is there anything in it?’ Elínborg asked as she took out a little bag of salted peanuts. She was always nibbling at things. Sigurdur Óli thought it was because of nerves.
‘In it?’ Sigurdur Óli said.
She nodded in the direction of the body. After staring at her for a moment, Sigurdur Óli realised what she meant. He hesitated, then knelt down by the body and stared at the condom.
‘No,’ he said. ‘It’s empty.’
‘So she killed him before his orgasm,’ Elínborg said. ‘The doctor thought—’
‘She?’ Sigurdur Óli said.
‘Yes, isn’t that obvious?’ Elínborg said, emptying a handful of peanuts into her mouth. She offered some to Sigurdur Óli, who declined. ‘Isn’t there something tarty about it? He’s had a woman in here,’ she said. ‘Hasn’t he?’
‘That’s the simplest theory,’ Sigurdur Óli said, standing up.
‘You don’t think so?’ Elínborg said.
‘I don’t know. I don’t have the faintest idea.’
VOICES Copyright © 2003 by Arnaldur Indridason
Reading Group Guide
About this Guide
The following author biography and list of questions about Voices are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach Voices.
1. Crimes happen everywhere, but police work can be very different from country to country. What do you think of the methods employed by Erlendur, as compared to those you may have seen on television or in books that are set in the United States, or elsewhere? Is it easier to catch criminals in Reykjavik than it is in New York or Los Angeles? Consider, for example, the fact that Erlendur entertains the idea of shutting down and sequestering everyone in the hotel.
2. Erlendur is very concerned about his privacy. Throughout the book, different people in his life pry into his personal affairs, and he continually tells them to mind their own business. Yet Erlendur doesn't seem to be as touchy when it comes to other people's privacy. For example, he tells his colleague Sigudur Oli to back off, while at the same time asking him very private questions about trying to get his wife pregnant. Why does Erlendur do this? Is he always a detective, even with his friends? What does this say about his particular vulnerabilities?
3. Erlendur reads accounts of deaths. We learn that this is related to the tragic loss of his brother when he was a child. But why does he do this when it is too painful to remember what happened? Does it comfort him, or is he torturing himself? Do you think this childhood incident may have influenced Erlendur to become a detective?
4. When Erlendur lets his former boss Marion Briem take part in the case, Marion thanks him for "handing him some morsels." Why is he so thankful to be included in the case even though he's retired? Why does Erlendur give in and let Marion take part even though he gets on Erlendur's nerves? Is it out of pity, or does Erlendur worry about what he's going to be like when he gets old himself?
5. Why is Erlendur so stirred by Gudlaugur's story, and why is he unable to go home? Does he worry that he himself is like Gudlaugur, a loner and failure? Or does Erlendur identify Gudlaugur as a child with his lost brother? Might Erlendur see Gudlauger as both himself and as his lost brother?
6. What do you think is the connection between: the battered child which Elinbourg is handling, Erlendur's childhood experience, and the present case? Is the connection only in Erlendur's mind? Or do we naturally make connections like this? Does Erlendur only understand life in terms of "cases?"
7. Late in the novel, Erlendur unearths a lie in Stefania's story. We are told that there is nothing more valuable to a criminal investigation than discovering a lie. Why? Wouldn't it be more useful if everyone told the truth? How do lies, once they are uncovered, move a case forward?
8. Investigator Erlendur is the central character in the story. Yet his story is not told through his own voice, in the first-person narrative, but rather in the third-person narrative. Why do you think Indridason chose not to have Erlendur tell the story in his own voice? How might it change the story if Erlendur were recounting everything in his own words? Would he be a less reliable narrator?
9. What do you think of Erlendur's tactics? With some people he is gentle, with others he is inquisitive, and at times he can be aggressive in his interrogations. Why do you think that he uses different tactics like this? How does he decide where and when to be more aggressive? If you were conducting the investigation, would you have been more or less aggressive than Erlendur?
10. Why do you think Erlendur wanted to tell Valgerdur, the woman who took the saliva samples, about what happened with his brother when he had never told anyone? Do you think that he just needs to get it off his chest and it's easier to tell a stranger? Or do you think that he really likes Valgerdur, and he wants to try to make a new start? Do you think there might be a future between him and Valgerdur?
11. When Eva Lind presses Erlendur for answers about why he wasn't there for her in her childhood, Erlendur blurts out: "People talk too much...People should shut up more often. Then they wouldn't give themselves away so much." What do you think about this? Does this reveal anything about how Erlendur views himself, and how he looks at life? When it comes to how he treated his family, does Erlendur view himself as a criminal?
12. Were you surprised to find out that Osp had committed the murder. Did she seem a very likely suspect when we met her in the beginning? At the end, she says she does not know why she killed him. Maybe it was for the money, maybe because of her brother, maybe her own addiction, and maybe it was because she herself had been raped and just flipped out. How responsible do you think she is for the murder? If the Englishman, Henry Wapshott had killed Gudlauger for the records, would he have seemed more guilty than Ösp, or less guilty? Do you think that Erlendur might be less inclined to blame Ösp for what happened given that she reminded him of his own daughter and her struggles?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you have not as yet discovered this Icelandic writer you cannot do better than to start with this the 3rd in a series set in and around Reykjavik, as each book stands alone. Three detectives of the Reykjavik police have to solve the mystery of an old man found in the basement of one of the large Hotels at the height of the Christmas holiday season. All three detectives have problems of their own away from the investigation. This is a series of novels I would rate as high as anything written by Peter Robinson 'see 'Friend of the Devil''.
This was the first book that I had read in the series and I became hooked. I have been a faithful reader of everything that has been translated from Arnaldur Indridason.
The grand hotel is loaded with tourists vacationing in Iceland during Christmas. However, the management calls the Reykjavik police to inform them someone murdered their doorman who doubled as Santa Claus. Police inspector Erlendur and Detectives Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg arrive at the crime scene to find in the basement the bludgeoned corpse of Gudlaugur Egilsson a used condom hangs from his penis. As saliva is taken from all the guests and employees, the three cops interview everyone, but no one admits knowing the victim outside of the hotel. The hotel manager confesses that he had just fired Gudlaugur, but had no motive to kill him. Erlendur and his companions soon learn that Gudlaugur was a popular soprano as a young boy so the sleuths turn towards his family, whom he was estranged from after an incident with his father left the older Egilsson wheelchair bound. Erlendur personalizes the case as it reminds him of his own family, but diligently continues seeking the motive that will lead to the killer¿s identity if DNA testing fails to do so. --- This terrific Icelander police procedural combines a strong murder investigation with Erlendur¿s personal crisis as the case is wearing him down. His daughter visits him though everyone assumes she is a hooker he hired, and he considers an affair with a crime scene technician. Readers will appreciate Arnaldur Indridason¿s fabulous whodunit due to predominately Erlendur (see his previous case SILENCE OF THE GRAVE). --- Harriet Klausner
Though I enjoyed the first two books in this series, I found this one to be a little dull. I couldn¿t get interested in the plight of Gudlaugur, the murdered Santa. We never got enough of a sense of who he really was to develop any sort of feelings about him. Despite the looming Christmas holidays and the transient nature of Erlendur¿s pool of suspects, there was no sense of urgency or danger. Indridason likes to combine a couple of different storylines, and even the secondary plot, the mystery of the abused boy that Elinborg was investigating, fell flat. There was nothing to tie it into the overall story, and no solid resolution at the end. We did learn a little more about Erlendur as he stumbles through his life in his socially inept way, but even there there wasn¿t much progress made, other than a little more understanding between him and his troubled daughter Eva Lind. If you¿d like to try Indridason, I recommend his previous book, Silence of the Grave, but you can give this one a pass. I¿ll probably read the next book because I enjoy reading about Indridason¿s Iceland, but I¿ll be hoping for a whole lot more.
Excellent mystery, right up there with Henning Mankell series..a fast read , also.
I hope that Erlundur and his friends and family are not an accurate depiction of Iceland's people - if they are = what a depressing place.
The doorman at a Reykjavik hotel who doubles every year as Santa at Christmas parties in the hotel is found dead by one of the hotel maids, stabbed to death, in his squalid basement room. Christmas is fast approaching and the detective Erlendur is confronted by the problem of how or even if he is going to celebrate Christmas. Is there anything to celebrate? Strangely he moves into the hotel while the investigation of the murder is carried out just feeling he can't go back to his flat. This is Indridason's 3rd novel to be translated into English. It was originally published in 2003 and made it into English in 2006. Erlendur of course eventually solves the murder mystery but along the way we learn a lot about the ghosts of his own past, and gain insight into his relationship with his drug-addicted daughter Eva Lind. And even in the last 10 pages we are still juggling candidates for the killer.
A doorman of a Reyjavik hotel is found stabbed to death minutes prior to his appearance as Santa Claus for a children's event at the hotel. Detective Erlundur investigates with his team during the frantic week before Christmas, taking up residence in the hotel. Highly enjoyable
It¿s Christmas, and Reykjavik is besieged with international tourists seeking an exotic holiday vacation. The festive mood is interrupted at a five-star hotel when Santa is discovered murdered ¿ his body found in a dingy basement room, and in a most compromising position. Erlendur heads up the ensuing investigation which unfolds over five days. He soon learns that Santa, also the hotel doorman, was a child star, an unsurpassed operatic soprano whose original recordings have recently been determined to be worth millions. Motive?True to form, Indridason has a couple of subplots in the works as well. Eva Lind, Erlendur¿s addict daughter, has been straight for some months following a very near brush with death. But she¿s struggling again and doesn¿t know how much longer she can ¿hold out.¿ And Erlendur¿s colleagues are working a case involving a young boy whose been badly beaten, allegedly by school thugs. But the facts of the case don¿t ring true; and although the boy remains steadfastly silent, the father looks awfully suspect.Indridason¿s trademarks are on full display here: a layered and intricate plot; suspenseful, quick-moving story; varied and interesting characters. Oh, and can¿t forget a love interest (or at least the hint of one) for Erlendur. Recommended!
A doorman at a fancy hotel is found murdered a few days before Christmas, and the police are initially at a loss to know more about him than his name. But bit by bit, they unearth his past, his family, his secrets, and the secrets of the hotel itself. The detective has some secrets and history of his own. The author doesn't shy away from interweaving the investigation and the investigator's private life, as each sheds light on the other. Excellent.
Christmas in Iceland. Lovely hotel, snow-covered boulevards. Sounds seasonably romantic, unless of course a hotel employee, dressed as Santa Claus is found stabbed to death in a basement room and then¿well, not so much.Inspector Erlendur is called in, with his team of investigators. At first glance, this quiet doorman/handyman is a complete blank slate, even though he has worked and resided at this hotel for over twenty years. Who is this guy? Slowly, Erlendur begins to peel the layers back, and mysteries begin to unfurl, like the petals of a tainted rose.Erlendur has much in common with another popular Scandinavian detective, Kurt Wallander. Both are middle-aged, grumpy loners, dealing with difficult daughters. They are also both excellent police officers.This is the 3rd of a terrific series. Yes, the tone can be somewhat gloomy but there is enough humor and suspense to keep the pages turning.
This may be Indridason's best yet...it is simply outstanding. I thought the last one (Silence of the Grave) was excellent, but I liked this one even more. It is one of the darkest mysteries I've ever encountered and the time flew by as I was reading. I couldn't put it down. Most highly recommended -- for serious mystery readers and those who enjoy Scandinavian mysteries and haven't yet discovered this author. You may wish to read them in order, however. Voices begins with the discovery of a dead ex-doorman in his basement room at the hotel where he used to work. It's Christmas time in Reykjavik, and the doorman has been found wearing a Santa suit (he was supposed to play St. Nick at a hotel Christmas party), the pants down around his ankles and stabbed through the heart. There is very little for the police to go by except for a condom. As he begins his investigation, Erlendur, along with his team Sigurdur Oli and detective Elinborg, realizes that there is no one who really knew the dead man at the hotel, even though he had worked there for years. Obviously this makes his job more difficult. He begins delving into the life of the doorman and his investigations lead him into the doorman's rather strange past -- but does it have anything to do with his death? That's what Erlendur must discover. There's also some strange happenings at the hotel, a case of severe child abuse, and Erlendur has his own daughter Eva Lind to contend with as well. And it's Christmas -- a depressing time for many people. It's a police procedural but it's also a psychological look at what makes families tick & why family relationships are often the way they are. It's humorous in spots, but overall, this is a bit morose and dark. The mystery is solid and readers will not be disappointed. Highly recommended.
This is about as good as crime fiction gets, with a dark landscape, an interesting lead inspector, and a heartbreaking crime. Full of psychological insight and small bits of subtle humor woven throughout keeps the book from being overwhelmingly depressing. A fast and easy read that you will want to finish in one setting. I can't wait to read more from this series.
5 stars means "I'm going to read it again."I think the thing that strikes me most is the dialogue - confusion, empathy and sarcastic humor all manage to come across mainly through what people say instead of through the brute force of character description. Even when we do get character description it's usually more about what else they do than a list of adjectives. I can identify with Elinborg's baking, Sigurder Oli's stress about getting home to his wife, and Erlender's solitairy reading habit. The only thing that stuck me as off were the scenes with Marion Briem - probably because they are meant to be outside the normal flow of the investigation. They just feel like a running joke from the author that I'm not in on. This has the true hallmark of a good mystery - I didn't figure out whodunit, but it made sense when revealed. (The previous book in the series seems more of a procedural - I didn't think I had enough clues to try to guess. That's fine too, but I do like a good mystery.)I'm looking forward to the American edition of the next book!
It is the week before Christmas and we are in the far north, almost guaranteed a snowy, white holiday. But it you looking for a cozy mystery perhaps you should look elsewhere because this book would seem to fall distinctly in the category of 'noir', defined in Merriam-Webster as ¿crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings.¿ Yes, cynical...and yes, bleak...and in ¿Voices¿ that is a very enjoyable thing.The holidays are approaching, and in the basement of Iceland's very popular Grand Reykjavik Hotel, a body has been found. The victim of the brutal stabbing is the hotel's doorman, discovered half dressed in the suit he was going to wear to play Santa at an employee party. Found with his pants down around his ankles, in a very compromising position, in the nasty, empty little room in which he lived. Called in to investigate is Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson and his team, each with their own very distinct personalities. Erlendur is himself a rather bleak yet compelling character. Divorced for decades, almost a stranger to his two now grown, troubled children, he might seem at first an unlikely sympathetic character. But as with all the folks here, we learn that what we first at see is not all there is to the story. For example, Erlendur is still haunted by the death of his younger brother when they were both just children, the boy lost forever on a snowy Icelandic moor, while Erlendur was found and saved. ¿He was older and was responsible for his sibling. It had always been that way. He had taken care of him. In all their games. When they were home alone. When they were sent off on errands. He had lived up to those expectations. On this occasion he had failed, and perhaps he did not deserve to be saved since his brother had died. He didn't know why he had survived. But he sometimes thought it would have been better if he were the one lying lost on the moor.¿ That death and his sense of responsibility for it has colored ever aspect of his life since and is perhaps one reason he find himself at an almost total loss as to how to deal with his own daughter Eva Lind, a drug addict, suffering her own guilt over the death of her prematurely born daughter. Bit it is also why he is so dedicated to his job.And besides the murder, there is also woven another little subplot of a young boy who has been very severely beaten, maybe by his father. But again, there is more to this than meets the eye.Yes, there is a lot of angst in beautiful, snowy Iceland this Christmas. While the story and the setting and the writing itself are spare and a bit bleak, the author's great ability to develop these characters, including even the victim, and a glimpse of Icelandic culture, raises what might otherwise be an ordinary police procedural to another level. The third in a series, along with 'Jar City' and 'Silence of the Grave', 'Voices' is a very fine stand alone mystery. I know that I will be going back and reading the previous two and then will catch up on the latest, 'The Draining Lake'. Now if I could just get the hang of these Icelandic names...
In the week before Christmas, when all is calm and all is bright, someone came into a small room in the basement of a hotel and stabbed the hotel's doorman as he was dressing to play Santa to the children that afternoon. Are doormen so invisible to the rest of the hotel staff that nobody, not even the hotel manager, knew anything about his habits, his background or even where he came from? And why would someone want to kill Santa?Inspector Erlendur tries to piece together the background of the victim with the assistance of his team. His list of suspects grow with each day he spends in the hotel. Finding a motive for killing what appears to be an almost homeless elderly man who had just been sacked from his job anyway proves to be a challenge. In his own inimitable fashion, Inspector Erlendur sifts through the lies most of the people he interviews tell to find the secrets they are trying to hide. Why would a British record collector want with the victim? Why does the dead man's family appear to have no compassion for him? What secrets did the dead man have to hide himself and were they strong enough to warrant his murder? As Inspector Erlendur grapples with the dark and seedy side of Iceland, we also learn of an incident in his childhood that left a deep scar within him.A well crafted murder mystery with twists and turns at every corner.
Santa is found dead a few days before Christmas in one of Sweden's high end hotels. Detective Erlendur is called in to investigate the crime and as he delves deeper into the hotel and its staff he finds lies, secrets, drug addicts, blackmail and possible thieves. This is book three in a mystery series that features Detective Erlendur and though I have not read the previous two books, I did enjoy this book very much. It is dark, sad, gloomy and extremely pessimistic but still manages to be hopeful and enjoyable at the same time. I was glad to read a book where police officers did not feel the need to shoot anyone or brandish weapons. Though the storyline of the haunted detective with many personal problems has been so done, it is still fresh here. As you read, you find that though you are extremely curious to find out how Santa died, you are also interested in the back stories that surround the victim, the suspects and even the police officers investigating. The book is really sad and contemplative while speaking to the mistakes we make as we try to navigate life, the people we hurt along the way both intentional and by accident and most importantly the loneliness that plagues many. The mystery was also well done and though I wish there was a bit more to it, I am not complaining.
Dear Goddess, can Iceland really be this bleak?! This is one of the grimmest, saddest, most joy-sapping books I've ever read. And I quite simply couldn't put it down. I was vacuumed into the book's slipstream as soon as I read the first page...who uses the word "fracas" to describe a murder investigation?...and it kept me flipping pages until 2:40a EST.But no way in Hell do I want to make a trip to Reykjavik now! It would be too gruesome, seeing all the places I now know from Arnaldur Indriðason's sad slay-fests. And I'd be looking at every 50-ish redheaded man a little too intensely, just to make sure I didn't cross paths with Mr. Bad Luck Erlendur. *shiver* I get the feeling he'd leach the body heat out of passers-by, he's so frozen inside.Would I recommend it? Yeah, but not to the tender of spirit. Just no, no, no for the delicate. (mckait, the Terris, Linda) Caro and Mark'll love it. It's a nicely built book, though in common with the first one it's got some very untidy dingle-dangles that make me itch, hence the three stars. I feel like a mystery isn't fully ready for market until the clues are woven up, and if you're gonna tell me more than one story, the second one better be important to the first in SOME way. *grrr*
Recommended for fans of dark, introspective, police procedurals.
Once you get to grips with the Icelandic names and characters this is an engaging and different crime story, set in the run-up to Xmas at a hotel in Rejkjavik, where a doorman and occasional Santa has been murdered. The identity of the murderer had me guessing most of the way to the end.
Exceptional , enigmatic , superb author. One of my favorites from this author.
I have read each of the three books in the Reykjavik series and am looking forward to starting the 4th - The Draining Lake. You learn a lot about what it feels to live in this remote interesting country. Very enjoyable.